South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced in a statement on Tuesday that she was sending up to 50 National Guardsmen to Texas in response to that state’s governor, Greg Abbott, calling for help because of the number of migrant crossings. The Guardsmen will be there for a month to two months. Other states that are sending help to Texas include Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and Florida.
The peculiar arrangement was revealed in her statement when it stated the deployment “will be paid for by a private donation.” Willis Johnson, a wealthy Tennessee Republican billionaire says he is funding up to 50 South Dakota National Guard troops whom Gov. Kristi Noem is sending to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The payment will be funded by Willis and Reba Johnson’s Foundation, a charitable group from Franklin, Tenn,” Ian Fury, spokesperson for Noem said. “Governor Noem welcomes any such donations to help alleviate the cost to South Dakota taxpayers,” he added.
Willis Johnson is the founder of Copart Inc., a publicly traded auto salvage and auction company that auctions used, wholesale and wrecked cars. Forbes estimates Johnson is worth $2.2 billion. He founded the damaged auto auction company in 1982 after a decade running a junk yard in Vallejo, California. Copart is now traded on the Nasdaq and Johnson has retired into an estate he purchased from country music star Alan Jackson.
The used car magnate has become an increasingly high-dollar GOP donor, including President Trump’s re-election effort, the RNC, as well as his church and other Christian organizations, healthcare, needy and the National Rifle Association.
“I’m trying to help out the governor and help America,” Johnson said. A Vietnam veteran who doesn’t live in South Dakota , but rather in Tennessee reportedly said, “I met the governor a while back at a political fundraiser. I Believe in her state and Texas,” calling himself a hardcore Republican.
“I seen what Governor Abbott was doing down there in Texas,” Johnson said, noting that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had recently announced plans to send police officers to help his fellow Republican. “I thought, you got two big states in it, now you got a smaller state doing it, I thought I might as well help out. So, I gave her a call.” He added that he had hoped to contribute the money anonymously, but Noem’s office had told him that would be unlawful.
Governor Noem said in a statement, “The Biden administrations has failed the most basic duty of the federal government, keeping the American people safe.
The border is a national security crisis that requires the kind of sustained response only the National Guard can provide. We should not be making our own communities less safe by sending our police or Highway Patrol to fix a long-term problem President Biden’s Administration seems unable or unwilling to solve. My message to Texas is this: help is on the way.”